“Some persons dodder at 30, others at 80, and some pass through life without “doddering” at all. Our concern should be with competency, not age, race, sex or religion” – Representative Claude Pepper, 1986
There was a time for many professions in the United States when a person’s 65th birthday signaled the end of their working days. During the 1960’s and 70’s, approximately 40 to 50% of the American workforce were covered by compulsory retirement laws. These laws were amended in 1978 and raised the age to 70, but in February of 1986, legislation was introduced by Claude Pepper (who was 86 at the time) to ensure these policies would no longer endure in the United States. This weekend marked the 34th anniversary of the passage of the Age Discrimination in Employment Amendments. The amendments removed, with very few exceptions, the previously mandated retirement age allowing the majority of Americans to work as long in their chosen career as they were able to.
From the political side of the aisle, Pepper was considered by many to be a champion of the rights of elder Americans. Maggie Kuhn, the founder of the Gray Panthers, was also a champion for those same Americans. It was due in no small part to her lobbying efforts that the retirement age amendments of 1978 were successfully passed. She believed that young and old adults should be integrated in social justice movements, often underscoring this by saying “Every one of us is growing older.” In the 1970’s and 80’s it was not uncommon to see Pepper and Kuhn working together to promote the legislation and ideals that worked toward this integration.
Speaking a few days after the amendments were signed into law on October 31st, Claude Pepper remarked that “this bill means that for millions of elderly Americans, the blessings of a 70th birthday will not become a death sentence against their working lives. This new las is an important step in guaranteeing the elderly of this nation a fundamental civil right – the right to work as long as they are willing and able.”
In the Summer of 1987, Representative Claude Pepper introduced House Resolution 2654. In it a request was made to establish a 12-member committee charged with providing recommendations to Congress for a comprehensive health care program for all Americans. In October of 1988, Pepper was appointed as the chairperson of the United States Bipartisan Commission on Comprehensive Health Care. The committee’s findings indicated that the majority of Americans were prohibited at some level from obtaining adequate health care due to the high costs associated with medical treatment, particularly for long-term and catastrophic illness.
Throughout his career, Pepper was uniquely devoted to the idea of comprehensive health care coverage. In 1937, during his first term as Senator, he co-authored legislation establishing the National Cancer Institute. Throughout the remainder of his career, he was instrumental in establishing an additional thirteen National Institutes of Health. Beginning in 1946, Pepper began efforts to muster support for the Wagner-Murray-Dingell Bill. A proposal to institute a national health care and hospital system intended to ease the hardship that America’s health care system imposed on those least able to afford it, the bill failed to gain traction or support.
For the next thirty years, the possibility of a National Health Care system continued to remain on the forefront of Pepper’s agenda. His last legislative efforts began in 1987. After the Bipartisan Commission, Pepper and his colleagues in the House began to craft what would become the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act of 1988. The bill was designed to improve acute care benefits for the elderly and disabled, which was to be phased in from 1989 to 1993.The act was meant to expand Medicare benefits to include outpatient drugs and set a cap on out of pocket medical costs. It was the first bill to significantly expand Medicare benefits since the program’s inception. Although the bill passed easily with initial support, the House and Senate repealed it a year later in response to widespread criticism over projected government costs.
Senator Pepper died in May of 1989, not seeing his goal of a national health care system achieved. Today the work toward that goal continues, and if you are interested to learn more about the history and evolution of the path toward affordable and equitable health care coverage for all Americans, the Pepper Papers, and all of our political collections, are searchable online.
Claude Pepper speaking at the Aging Subcommittee on Health Maintenance and Long Term Care hearing. Claude Pepper Papers Photo B(1397)-01.
Social Security, minimum wage, and the National Institutes of Health. These are just a few of the ways that Claude Denson Pepper left his mark on American politics. He was born in rural Alabama, the eldest of four children to Joseph and Lena Pepper, on September 8, 1900. From these humble beginnings, Pepper would come to serve the people of Florida as a U.S. Senator (1936-1950) and Representative (1963-1989). In his later years as a U.S. Representative, he was a champion of the elderly; crafting and supporting legislation that was geared toward ensuring elder Americans were allowed to age and finish their lives with care and dignity.
This Saturday, May 30, marks the 31st anniversary of Senator Pepper’s passing. When he died on May 30, 1989, Pepper was the eldest sitting member of Congress. He was honored by laying in state under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for three days before making his way to Tallahassee to be laid to rest next to his wife Mildred. Special Collections & Archives honors the Senator and encourages you to visit our online resources on Pepper, including diaries, photographs and manuscript material, to better acquaint yourself with one of the most active figures of 20th Century American politics.
Many remember Senator Claude Pepper as the “nation’s spokesman for the elderly,” serving as a chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Health and Long-term care and the House Select Committee on Aging during the 1970s. Pepper gained recognition for being instrumental in displaying such a perpetual commitment to ensuring affordable access to comprehensive healthcare and solidifying social security benefits and Medicare/Medicaid. Remarkably, he expanded the spectrum of public health through the establishment of ten research centers to reduce the pervasiveness of chronic illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, in an effort to reduce the exacerbation of symptoms.
Today, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia among older adults. Many individuals who are affected by the disease experience early onset in their 40s or 50s, while the majority of populations are diagnosed at 65 and up. Although this chronic illness entails complexities to why it occurs, there are several risk factors that precipitate the presence of developing dementia. These conditions include: head trauma, genetics, age, diet, or family history. The U.S. National Institutes of Health reported, that diabetes mellitus, smoking, depression, mental inactivity, physical inactivity and poor diet are associated with increased risk of developing dementia. For example, diabetes can increase the risk of AD by affecting the AB accumulation in the brain, causing the brain to compete for insulin-degrading enzymes. Other studies reveal that hypertension increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 50% by decreasing the vascular integrity of the blood-brain barrier, resulting in protein extravasation into brain tissue. Furthermore, the Alzheimer’s Association (2018) revealed that 35% of Alzheimer’s or dementia caregivers reported that their health got worse over time due to care responsibilities, compared to 19% of caregivers for older people without dementia. Primarily, this disease not only affects families but the healthcare system as well by prevailing as the most expensive disease in America, costing more than cancer and heart disease to treat. In 2017, the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementia’s estimated 259 billion (The Alzheimer’s Association, 2018).
These statistics are staggering, which is why Senator Claude Pepper worked tirelessly to sponsor legislation to fund research efforts to create intervention therapies to alter cognitive decline. As a result, his legacy continues today as policymakers partner with IT technologist to treat the disease through the development of assisted technologies. These web-based interventions are beginning to change the paradigm of Alzheimer’s care by offering real-time access to clinicians via a patient portal or mobile app in order to provide care plans and disease management support in the home. Thus, aiding to lighten the burden of caregivers and improve the safety of dementia patients by modifying behavioral and psychiatric symptoms. (Lancioni, Singh, O’Reilly, Sigafoos, Amico, Renna and Pinto, 2016).
Pepper’s vision of improving home health care to enhance the quality of life for the disabled and elderly is beginning to resonate in the healthcare industry. Consequently, empowering dementia patients and caregivers in achieving self-efficacy. Even though e-health tools are changing the dynamic of dementia treatment, awareness and financial provisions are still necessary to broaden the scope of accessing these applications. If you are a student or faculty member who may be interested in learning more about Senator Pepper’s work or the implementation of healthcare policies in government, visit the Claude Pepper Library!
The Claude Pepper Library & Museum offers insight into the establishment of medical research centers as well as the National Institutes of health on behalf of Senator Pepper’s instrumental legislative work. These materials are available for researchers and can be discovered online through the collection’s finding aid.
U.S. Senator and House of Representative Claude Pepper was an exemplary public servant who was solely committed to unifying healthcare opportunities for all Americans regardless of socioeconomic status or ethnicity. Throughout his career, he became a fierce advocator of health care reform in strengthening social security funding and Medicare/Medicaid benefits. Thus, creating provisions for at risk populations to receive equal medical coverage.
Claude Pepper maintained a rare awareness of the hardship that many Americans faced in obtaining efficient healthcare. Pepper used his voice to spark change in the U.S. healthcare system to dispense sufficient resources that would generate affordable care and enhance medical treatment. For years, Pepper worked tirelessly to lobby legislators to develop strategies that would allocate funding to provide public health services that would improve health outcomes. Because of his concern for medical care, Pepper established thirteen National Institutes of Health to support innovative endeavors in treating or curing chronic diseases through research. In 1937, during his term as Senator, he co-authored legislation establishing the National Cancer Institute to support cancer research. Subsequently, he helped to establish ten research centers for the cure and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Later in the 1940s, he sponsored legislation to create a national health insurance program to enforce equal healthcare opportunities. Pepper’s legislative efforts have served as a compass for many who are interested in improving health care policies and those who seek to learn the process of how legislators present bills to be passed into law to improve our society.
The Claude Pepper Library & Museum offers insight into the establishment of the National Institutes of Health on behalf of Senator Pepper’s instrumental legislative work on varied Health Institutes. These materials are available for researchers and can be discovered online through the collection’s finding aid.
Former President Jimmy Carter and the late Congressman Claude Pepper will always be remembered for combating the complexities of our society by sponsoring legislation that legitimized sufficient welfare for all humanity. President Carter served as the 39th president of the U.S. from 1977-1981. Carter also served as a member of the Democratic Party and as Governor of Georgia prior to his election as president. Claude Pepper was a Democratic politician who was elected into the Florida House of Representatives in 1928 and served from 1929-1930. Pepper represented Florida in the U.S. Senate from 1936-1950 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1962 until his death on May 30, 1989.
During that time period, Carter and Pepper shared a loyal friendship and comradery in government which proved to be a conscientious commitment to securing the rights and liberties of all citizens. The trailblazers advocated for health and education reform, overturning segregation and providing equal housing and job opportunities for all races including women, the handicapped and the aging population. The two also helped pass the Mandatory Retirement Bill in 1986 which abolished age discrimination in the workplace. Throughout their exemplary careers, they both remained steadfast during moments of opposition by the Republicans and their own Democratic party. Despite opposition, both leaders worked towards eradicating ignorance and delving into public policies by levying Republicans and Democrats to form an alliance, conducive to creating good government.
Amazingly, Carter and Pepper shared similar backgrounds. Both men were raised around African Americans who were loyal friends that worked beside their families each day. As young men they both witnessed families living in poverty stricken areas who lacked adequate healthcare, food or housing. They were raised in Christian homes in rural areas in the south where electricity and indoor plumbing were uncommon. Carter was born on October 1, 1924 in Plains, Georgia on a peanut farm owned by his father, James Earl Carter Sr. Claude Pepper was born on September 8, 1900 in Chambers County, Alabama in a poverty stricken rural area. Pepper’s parents (Joseph and Lena Pepper) were sharecroppers. Even though both men grew up in remote areas, their families embraced the importance of receiving an education which equipped them for their aspirations in life. The pure nature of humble beginnings bestowed a notion of morality and validity in leadership among these courageous men. Thus, allowing Pepper and Carter to vigorously use their platform in government to harness the needs of others by serving as a surrogate to reduce impoverishment in our society.
Today the Claude Pepper Library & Museum at Florida State University holds the Claude Pepper Papers which contains correspondence that exhibits Carter and Pepper support and respect for each other. These materials are available for researchers and may be discovered through the collection’s finding aid. The library also displays several photographs of the two leaders attending various events and solidifying legislation together not only in the Claude Pepper museum but through DigiNole, the FSU Digital Repository.
We invite all researchers from various backgrounds to come in and take a glimpse back into time on how several politicians have changed the scope of government to maximize various opportunities that we are all benefiting from today. We hope that our collection will not only educate you but inspire each of you to be great leaders of merit academically and professionally.
“…I could hardly believe Japan had actually attacked us first in such a remote place, yet the whole country has been first stunned then calmly resolved that now we are going to accept the challenge and get it over. They bombed barracks killing 350 soldiers [the total casualties were 2,403 killed & 1,178 wounded] and some ships apparently from an airplane carrier…The President and cabinet met at 8:00PM. Congressional leaders in later. All but Senator Nye of isolationists’ crowd have come around now. I gave out statement, not a question of who has been right but of unity henceforth. Joint session at 12:30PM tomorrow. Well here it is – war – war – God strengthen us all.”
When bombs fell on Pearl Harbor in the early morning of December 7, 1941, the picture of America, as has often happened, was changed. Having only begun to shake off the burden that was the Great Depression, the country was largely isolationist and determined to right its own ship, letting the world without handle its second great conflagration within twenty years. As was reflected in the above excerpt from Senator Pepper’s diary however, the country as a whole came to a realization very quickly: the war is upon us and we must fight. The outpouring of support and the subsequent rush to military recruitment offices by millions of Americans was unprecedented, with the nation rapidly mobilizing to prepare for the next 4 years of global conflict. Not every action taken in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor was warranted however, as Japanese American citizens of the United States, were taken from their homes and interned in camps throughout the American Midwest and Arkansas.
As we remember the 75th anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, let us reflect on the lives lost that day and in the years that would follow, let us contemplate the day’s significance in the history of not only our country, but the world, and finally let us remind ourselves of ways in which we can honor the sacrifices of those who came before.
Spring is in the air, the sun is out and that usually means it’s time to find a body of water to sit by and enjoy since we live in Florida. One of those places you could visit this spring and summer (or anytime really) would be the Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park.
This Florida State Park is home to plenty of wildlife including alligators, deer, birds, and of course the majestic manatee. There are guided water boat tours and a spring for swimming where the water is always a nice, cool temperature. Find more information about this beautiful state park here.
The park is named Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, you might wonder, “who is Edward Ball?” According to the Florida State Parks website, he was a “financier” who “purchased the property in 1934 and developed it as an attraction focusing on wildlife preservation and the surrounding habitat.” The Lodge at Wakulla Springs was built in 1937 as a guest house on the 4,000 acres Ball purchased the same year. In the 1960s’ Ball donated land to Florida State University for a marine lab which is now the Edward Ball Marine Laboratory.
Now you could be wondering, “what does any of this have to do with Claude Pepper?” The former Florida Senator and Congressman Claude Pepper and Edward Ball were like the Cady Heron and Regina George of their time, publicly civil with one another, but deplored each other in reality. Pepper writes about his relationship with Ball in his autobiography, Pepper: Eyewitness To A Century.
Ed Ball was a financier who amassed a great amount of wealth and power due to his family connections. His brother-in-law Alfred I. duPont was one of the wealthiest men in the country in the early 20th century. After duPont’s death in 1935, Ball took over control of the duPont Trust and emerged as a wealthy political dominant force in Florida in the 1940s’. Ball never ran for political office himself, but backed and tried to defeat political candidates running for office. One of those candidates he tried to defeat in the 1944 Florida Senate election and eventually succeeded in defeating was Claude Pepper in the now infamous 1950 Florida Senate election.
The history of these two men is long and extensive and I encourage any reader of this blog entry to read more on the subject. A great place to start would be Tracy E. Danese’s book, Claude Pepper & Ed Ball: Politics, Purpose, and Power published by the University Press of Florida in 2000. These two men played a great role in shaping the political history and future of Florida. I hope this blog gave you a brief summary of their relationship and intrigued you to read more about it.
From his first day as a United States Senator on January 1st 1937 to within four years of his death in office as a United States Representative on May 30, 1989, Claude Pepper kept a detailed personal account of his life as a public servant. During the summer of 2015, the staff of the FSU Digital Library Center undertook the project of scanning each of Senator Pepper’s 48 diaries and uploading them, as well as their accompanying enclosures and transcripts, into the FSU Digital Library hosted in Islandora. Now, researchers worldwide have the ability to search the diaries online and have access to over forty years of commentary on some of the most significant events of the 20th Century.
A perusal of the Senator’s diaries allows researchers to step inside the mind of one of America’s most active politicians and glimpse firsthand his thoughts on topics ranging from the Lend Lease Bill, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Medicare and Medicaid, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Social Security reform in the 1980s and hundreds of interactions between Pepper and the many influential figures of his day from Eleanor Roosevelt to Tip O’Neil. In addition to this excellent electronic resource, the Pepper Diaries are also available to be viewed in person at the Claude Pepper Library, which opens its doors Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Welcome back students, staff and faculty to another Fall Semester here at FSU! Here on campus and around town, there are some really great locations and spaces for learning and engaging with the past. One space in particular is the Claude Pepper Library at FSU. The Claude Pepper Library was established in 1985 as the official repository for the Claude Pepper Papers, a unique and multi-faceted collection of manuscripts, photographs, audio/video recordings, and memorabilia documenting the life and career of U.S. Senator and Congressman Claude Denson Pepper (1900-1989).
Our staff currently consists of Claude Pepper archivist Robert Rubero and archives assistant Mallary Rawls. The mission of the Claude Pepper Library is to support and advance research, teaching and engagement by acquiring, preserving and providing access to collections dealing with the political history of the State of Florida on national and local levels for use by students, faculty and researchers worldwide. The focus of our current major project is the digitization of the Claude Pepper diaries, which chronicle over 40 years of political involvement through the late Senator’s eyes.
At the Pepper Library we also enjoy posting to our Facebook page and enjoy updating our followers through our “Today in Pepper History” posts. More importantly, we offer patrons a firsthand experience with primary source materials from a variety of creators, all giving a glimpse into the political landscape in the State of Florida with a range of over 75 years. The Pepper Library has regularly hosted archives training sessions, class tours and guest lecturers and plans to continue these events in the future. There is also a museum component located in the Pepper Center which chronicles the life of Senator Pepper and is based on his book, Eyewitness to a Century.
Stay tuned for future blog posts as we bring you more great examples from our collections here at the Pepper Library!